Harriet Tubman and Cynthia Erivo Get the Heroic Biopic They Deserve

Illustration for article titled Harriet Tubman and Cynthia Erivo Get the Heroic Biopic They Deserve
Image: YouTube/Focus Features

The first look at the biopic Harriet is here, with Cynthia Erivo playing the gun-toting Harriet Tubman as she travels through the Underground Railroad.


The film follows Tubman, who was born into slavery, as she escapes to find freedom in Philadelphia only to go back to the South to rescue her family and other slaves. The script was written by Gregory Allen Howard (Ali, Remember the Titans) and Kasi Lemmons (Black Nativity, Talk to Me), who also directed. Alongside Erivo, who starred alongside Viola Davis in Widows but is best known for her work on Broadway in productions like The Color Purple, Janelle Monâe and Leslie Odom Jr. also star, with Odom Jr. playing the abolitionist William Still who helped organize and finance many of Tubman’s trips on the Underground Railroad.

“The story is such an important one to tell, and it’s crazy that it hasn’t been told yet,” Erivo said earlier this year about playing Tubman, whose casting was met with backlash over the fact that Erivo is a British actress. “I think that everyone needs to learn about this woman. There’s always a fear when you’re portraying a woman who means a great deal to a lot of people, and you want to make sure that you do her justice.”


Harriet is out in theaters November 1.

Pop Culture Reporter, Jezebel

Share This Story

Get our newsletter



Thanks to Octavia Butler’s short story Childfinder, and Levar Burton’s phenomenal storytelling podcast, Tubman is forever linked in my mind with Levar’s beautiful voice quietly muttering, “Long-haired motherfuckers.” Butler was an unparalleled world-creator, and the images she conjured of what it meant to truly understand the risk and terror of Tubman’s work are etched indelibly in my mind. I have a feeling this movie will do the same thing for a lot of people.